Muslims living in the United States are more likely to have a friend or family member who identifies as evangelical Christian than the other way around, according to a newly released survey.
The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding of New York released a study on Monday titled “Evangelical Christian and Muslim Relations in the U.S.,” which analyzed several points of comparison between the two faith communities.
According to the research, 38 percent of Muslim respondents reported having any family members or close friends who are evangelical and 53 percent reported interacting with evangelicals either “very frequently” or “somewhat frequently.”
By contrast, 18 percent of evangelical respondents reported having any family members or close friends who are Muslim and 22 percent reported interacting with Muslims either “very frequently” or “somewhat frequently.”
When asked to describe the relationship between evangelicals and Muslims in the United States, each faith group was more likely to rate it "fair" (37 percent of evangelicals, 31 percent of Muslims) than "poor" (24 percent of evangelicals, 26 percent of Muslims) or "good" (21 percent of evangelicals and Muslims). Only 5 percent of evangelicals and 9 percent of Muslims rated it “excellent.”
Data for the study was based off of an online survey conducted Jan. 3-15, with a sample space of 500 self-identified American evangelical Christians and 500 self-identified American Muslims, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.38 percentage points.
The study showed some similarities between the two faith groups, as both evangelical and Muslim respondents ranked “Daily Prayer,” “Family,” and “Making the world a better place for everyone” in their top three most important aspects of their religious tradition.
Further, majorities of both evangelical (61 percent) and Muslim (59 percent) respondents reported praying more than once a day.
There were also telling disparities. For example, 56 percent of evangelical respondents voted for Donald Trump in 2016, while only 12 percent of Muslim respondents did the same.
Also, 61 percent of evangelicals either “strongly support” or “somewhat support” the Trump administration’s travel ban on Muslim-majority countries; by contrast, only 20 percent of Muslims reported the same.
“Evangelical Christian-Muslim relations is today’s largest interreligious challenge and the poll shows that there are causes for concern and elements of hope and optimism on both sides to narrow the divide between the two faith communities,” said FFEU President Rabbi Marc Schneier in a statement released Monday.
Earlier this year, evangelical and Muslim leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., for a symposium on “bridge building” between the two religious groups.
Organized by the Unity Productions Foundation, the Kingdom Mission Society, and the Vienna-based International Dialogue Centre, the event included a screening of a documentary about St. Francis of Assisi’s communication with Sultan Al-Kamil in the Middle Ages.
“I think when you see St. Francis and you see examples of missionaries in the Evangelical movement what you will often see is the spirit of Christ to reach everyone, because we believe everyone has human dignity,” stated Alexei Laushkin, executive director of the Kingdom Mission Society.
“Throughout the scriptures Old Testament and New Testament you see the prophets and you see Jesus encountering people as they are and we try and use that spirit as our means for dialogue and conversation.”